38. David Craig, Craig, Kelley & Faultless – Truck Accident Expertise & Compassion

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Join Chris Dreyer in this episode of The Rankings Podcast as he interviews David Craig, the Managing Partner of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, about how to build a reputation around helping clients. David talks about starting and growing a successful law firm, becoming a truck accident expert, and cultivating compassion as a lawyer and business leader. Stay tuned.

Transcript

Prologue

Welcome to The Rankings Podcast where we feature top founders, entrepreneurs and elite personal injury attorneys and share their inspiring stories. Now let’s get started with the show.

Chris Dreyer  

Chris Dreyer here, CEO and Founder of Rankings.io, where we help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings. You’re listening to The Rankings Podcast where I feature top business owners, entrepreneurs and elite personal injury attorneys. Speaking of elite personal injury attorneys, I’m happy to welcome David Craig to the show today. David is the managing partner of Craig Kelly & Faultless an Indianapolis based personal injury law firm. He has over 30 years of experience representing the victims of truck accidents, and sits on the Board of Regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. He is also the author of a recently released book, Semitruck Wreck: A Guide for Victims And Their Families. David, welcome to the show.

David Craig  

Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate the opportunity to be on.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah, I’m really excited to speak to you and I want to just jump right in let’s so take me back. Where did the idea come from to create Craig, Kelley and Faultless

David Craig  

You know, so Scott Faultless, he’s my partner. Scott was a law clerk of mine over 30 years ago. And, and so Scott had been with me for over 30 years. Back when I first started practicing, I was a general practice law firm, with my emphasis was always in litigation. I love litigation. I love fighting. I was competitive. And and Scott was one of those I hired from within my lawyers were always law clerks. That’d be that I got to know and trust and respect and then I would bring them on as attorneys. Now he’s my partner. And so we we started off as a general general practice law firm. Then I moved into personal injury with another firm. And the reason was, I always loved personal injury. I love the competition. But the problem was, the better I got at it for corporate The more the bad guys needed me. So, you know, I was getting paid a lot of money. But the bad guys were kept hiring me because they had bigger problems. And I actually remember one day I was I was sitting there I was bragging right? I never comment about pending litigation. But on the front of the Indianapolis business, there was this article about this case I was working on. At that time, my oldest son was a little was a little guy. And I was telling my wife Look, it says David Craig has no comment. You know, he has no comment. And it was this horrible thing that this client was accused of doing. But I was reading it and my son said, Well, what side are you on? And I remember thinking, that is a good question. I’m on the bad guy side. And it just kind of resonated with me. And it was kind of like, hey, go, what am I doing? So I knew I could make a lot of money. And I was making a lot of money on that side. But I wasn’t wasn’t very rewarding. It wasn’t something I was proud of. And I respect the lawyers who do that. I mean, there’s got to be lawyers on both sides. But I knew that my calling was more of helping people. And my dad was a psychologist, he worked for the state of Indiana, and he had a private practice. He never made a lot of money. But you know, he loved helping people. And so I thought, you know, at that point that was kind of an eye, it’s kind of eye opening experience. I’m like, you know, I need to regroup. And it took me time to do that, to move just a personal injury. And, and I love and I’ve never looked back. I mean, I just love helping people, and it’s so much more rewarding. When you’re not looking for the money. The money takes care of itself. You mean you just do the right thing and you take care of your people.

Chris Dreyer  

I think that’s such a powerful statement when you when you give and you don’t expect to receive back and you just that’s with in your nature, I think people can identify with that and they want to repay the favor that reciprocity comes natural. I imagine. So when your head was hitting the pillow probably back then it was probably a little bit different than now.

David Craig  

Yeah, well, you know, it was it was crazy because it was like holy cow. I mean, my partner at that time was a great business developer and he could bring in Tons of corporations that needed us. And so I always did some personal injury and I always enjoyed it. But to kind of say, you know, boy, I’m going to move in this direction. So I went to work for a personal injury firm that only did personal injury. And then when we broke off from that, Mr. Kelley, BJ Kelley, and Scott Faultless, so Scott went with me everywhere I went, and what’s what’s I needed him. He’s the smart, he’s the brains of our operation. And so we, we decided to start and I remember we started this company over 20 years ago, we started Craig, Kelley & Faultless over 20 years ago. I remember talking to the guy saying, look, if we want to go, that’s I love you guys to go, we’ll build this thing, but we have no clients. And we’re probably not going to make any money for at least a year. You have to assume we’ll get not no money, we won’t get paid for every year. We have no clients. But by God, we’ll do it the way we want to do it. We won’t, you know, the firm I was with, they’re more interested in the financial side of it, the money side of it. I said, you know, we’ll do it the way we want to do it, where we take care of people We put people first, we make a difference in the lives of the clients as well as the folks in the community in which we practice. And I believe, I believe that it’ll that it’ll work out. And I don’t know why those two guys decided to join me. But they did. And we formed Craig, Kelley and Faultless Which one? You’re absolutely right. When you put your head down 20 years ago, on the pillow, and your wife might remember my wife, she swears She didn’t say it, but my wife said, you know, Dave, this has got to be it. You know, this is it. Come on, please. Yeah. And you know, and and she, but she had faith and my wife actually runs our practice. And so that the four of us started this law firm. And, and we were right. I mean, the, we didn’t have clients. We weren’t big TV advertiser. We weren’t big, but word of mouth and referrals built our practice.

Chris Dreyer  

So that was that was gonna be my next question was, you know, what was the turning point? It sounds like it was kind of that treating people right and it was it referrals that really created that compounding momentum effect in the beginning.

David Craig  

Yeah, I mean, the great thing was we I love to try cases. I mean, I love trials. I mean, that’s my passion. I love that. I love the strategy. I love the competition. I love that. There’s nothing more rewarding than when the jury comes back and gives your client award and they hug you with tears in their eyes. I mean, there’s just nothing like that. That doesn’t get you up in the morning. I don’t know what does. And so, you know, and so you look at that, and, and so we were trying cases, and that’s kind of unique. Not everybody tries cases. It seems like to me, why would you go to law school? I mean, I hate law school. Why did you go to law school if you didn’t get to go try cases? That’s the it’s like practicing football and not getting the play the games. So we were trying cases and we were successful, which automatically in each small county that I went to and try to case all of a sudden we had referrals, all the law firms in that community would refer business to us. And also because we treated people right, we weren’t jerks. The business came. And so we build our business based on trying cases in small counties. And then those attorneys in those counties, and the judges and the prosecutors and the police and the doctors in those communities, saying, hey, these guys will treat you right. But But thank God, they’re also decent lawyers.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah, I think that’s that’s an incredible statement. I kinda want to dig into that. So you’ve been handling truck cases, specifically for over 30 years. You’ve wrote the book on it, which we’re going to talk about in a moment. But let’s just focus on this. Why should another personal injury attorney who is inexperienced, possibly refer a trucking case to you or work the case with you as opposed to taking on thinking it’s just like a motor via, you know, a car accident type case?

David Craig  

Yeah, I mean, the first thing is, you know, if you care about the people you represent, you’ve got to care about them. You want them to get a good result. Then Then the thing is, you want to take care of them. And so you want to work with an attorney that knows what they’re doing in the truck. cases because they’re different. I mean, they’re completely different. And the competition is a whole different level. And the trucking companies are huge. And they’re used to dealing with horrible losses. And so they got the best teams that you can get that money will buy, to go against you. If you’re just a sole practitioner, your small law firm out practicing law, and you occasionally get a case a personal injury case, and you get one of these, you’re out matched. I mean, I’ve had as much as a quarter of a million dollars of my own money. In a case that went to trial. A lot of small firms don’t have that those resources. And if you don’t have those resources, the other side knows it. And if you’re not going to try to case the other side know that I’ve tried trucking cases in front of jury trial and so, when when if you have not done that the other side noses so I have seen cases where you know, an attorney has would have settled it for a lot less money, they end up getting more money, ultimately and their own fees to coke counseling than they would have on their very own and plus the client gets taken care of A client gets a lot and it’s, it’s so frustrating. I occasionally I get a case I just recently got one where a lawyer had the case sat on it, thought, you know, I’m sure okay, so I’ll just settle this. He didn’t preserve the evidence. He didn’t do an ECM download, which is electronic control module of the truck, he didn’t go send his investigators out. And so a year goes by and the evidence is gone or lost. Some logs only have to be maintained six months. And so suddenly, this guy’s the case isn’t settling. Now, what course it’s not selling because the defense knows that this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. So the client ultimately fires him and then gets a rep a referral to us hires us. And within 30 days, we have done more than that guy had done in a year. And it’s just sad because if that lawyer had reached I didn’t know him. If that lawyer had reached out to me or somebody like me, they could have taken care of the client. He could have worked with a skilled lawyer and he would have learned something enjoyed the process. He would have made more money as well as the client would have done better.

Chris Dreyer  

100% agree and even that knowledge transfer that that’s you’re surrounded by an expert, you’re going to have some of that knowledge transferred to yourself. So if you haven’t taken the trucking cases, I would I would certainly advise working with an expert in the space. So so we’re talking about trucking. Let’s talk about your book. Let’s talk about Semitruck Wreck: A Guide for Victims And Their Families. What inspired you to write the book?

David Craig  

You know, after ever 30 years, a representative always represented a truck wreck victims. And I always looked at it as you know, my job was to get the best result for those clients that I could get. I never publicize my results. I don’t put them on on my my web page. I don’t brag about them. I don’t put them in newspapers. I don’t do any of that. All I cared about was my client. I’m just old fashioned, just small law firm. And I had my clients I took care of my clients and I battled the big trucking companies and their insurance carriers. And that was satisfying enough because you made it difference in their lives. And you saw the difference. You may I mean, you made a difference in their whole family’s lives. And but then, at the end of a couple cases several, several times, clients will come up to me and say, you know, it was a fluke, like one one client came to me and said, was a fluke that I picked you. You know, I interviewed several, but once I met you, I trusted you. And I wanted you to write my case, and think that I did. But I could have easily gone with somebody that was not as knowledgeable or not as good, because I didn’t know what I was looking for. And I and other clients talk about what they didn’t have any idea what the, what the process was, what was involved in collecting information. They didn’t know what questions to ask if you don’t know this area. No, there’s lawyers who don’t know this area. There’s lawyers who wouldn’t know what to ask, let alone somebody who’s just minding their own business, an average person who gets run over by a semi. And so I got to think about it. I want to put a book together that empower people that gave them the information so they can ask the questions they need to ask. They can either right? hire the right lawyer so they can avoid some pitfalls. I was seeing really bad lawyers, doing unethical things to pick up cases are hardly a big case that I’ve, I’ve handled in years, or there hasn’t been an unethical lawyer trying to get the case. Because if they’re worth a million or millions, people will do the wrong things because of the motivation. And so but the clients don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. They don’t know what people are allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do. So I wanted to put together a book that provided all this information. So whether they pick me or they pick somebody else, they pick somebody who knows what they’re doing. But more importantly, they can read the book and they know what questions to ask. They can say, who’s your team of experts? Do you have a mechanic? Do you have somebody who does knows how to do ECM? Are you using a drone to scan the scene? Are you doing a 3d scale? cloud base matrix measurements and so you read the book they read the book they know When their lawyer is bullshitting them, or whether or not they know and so that’s that was the whole point. I had clients, you know, asked me to do it. I never did it because again, I was just looking at my clients, not the big picture. And now I’m excited. I actually went back to some of my old clients and said, you know, what would you have liked to have known in the beginning. And the foreword was written by Jennifer Shelley. And you know, her husband got killed right in front of her eyes. And she was nice enough to write the foreword for me. But when I went back and talk to these people again, they were they were they were, they were happy. They were happy I was doing the book. And that was something I just hadn’t registered because I was just, I was focused on this case, this day, when this case for these clients, I wasn’t looking beyond that.

Chris Dreyer  

I think that’s an incredible piece of advice on its own, just having gone to your clients and whatever, whatever you call it, retrospective, debriefs, whatever you want to call it, to get that information to make Where you are creating truly valuable for the next person. So I think that was extremely important. The other thing that you kind of just rattled off some terms there, you said a few things. And you said ECM, a few other synonyms. You know, I’m the acronyms. I’m not a trucking expert, I have no clue what ECM means. But, you know, that’s very clear that when you’re just kind of rattling off just just some of those components that the expertise is there. Um, one of the things I want to mention too, is you know, this, this is a most of our audiences listening and they’re trying to think how can I grow my personal injury law firm? And a book is just so valuable because it shows your thought leader, you get on podcasts like like this one, which then you can get a backlink to support your SEO efforts. I’m just kind of curious what are you planning to do to try to use it from from a marketing component so maybe what are you doing from a marketing components In regards to the book, yeah, you

David Craig  

know, from my perspective, I mean, I looked at it and said, you know, how do I provide information that can empower ordinary people? And that’s my marketing. I mean, really, when you think about it, is that I think the key to success, the key that’s helped us do as well as we’ve done is our marketing has been geared towards providing information. You give people information, you give people free information, you, you answer their questions, you talk to them, you treat them right. And so I look at the book as just an extension of that. We do helmet giveaways, we do distracted right we do so many different things in the community, that you don’t know if you’re going to get a client from it or not, but you do it because it’s the right thing. You give information out on your whether it’s your website, or your blog, or your videos, and you talk to people like you, like ordinary people, like you’re talking to a jury. And and I think that it resonates and I think then the marketing kind of builds on itself. I don’t know. You know, Chris, you’ve been Have a great reputation as somebody who can build SEO, you have I mean, I’ve heard about you in the industry. And so you have a great, I don’t know how you guys do it. I honestly don’t. But I do talk to the people that I work with and say, Look here, this is who I am, you know, and so I can’t change that. I’m not a brilliant person. You know, I’m not a scholar. But nobody can outwork me. And nobody cares more about what they do than I do. And nobody’s more competitive. And so and I love helping people. And that’s why I do what I do. So let’s take that. And I’m happy to share information. And can you take that information I share and do anything with it? And they usually like Yeah, that’s great, because so many law firms don’t want to do that. They just want to brag about their numbers or whatever.

Chris Dreyer  

I was gonna say you’re a dream client for any SEO agency, because all those things that you’re talking about are the things that help the SEO agency do their job. So that’s just building prominence in your local community. And that that’s, that’s what it’s all about. So, you know, we talked a little bit about kind of your, your positioning and your philosophy, really helping the end consumer providing value to them. Let’s talk about the people side. So what you know, in order to have a successful law firm, what are the best ways to find and retain talent for your firm?

David Craig  

You know, I think that’s a that’s something I wasn’t very good at early on. You know, I think part of being who I am, is that I love people. And so when you’re meeting people, you fall in love every time you interview, Bob, that’s a great person, please bring them in. And, you know, and so I would just trust, you know, my abilities, and by just interviewing them, and and I was wrong, you know, I just, I didn’t do that. You have to have a great team to be successful. I know how to win trials. And so I could build a trial team. I could hire the right experts. I was never any doubt about that. But running a business. This was different it took a different skill set the people you’re looking for were different and so you know I actually credit a lot I’m I belong to a mastermind group CrispX with Mike Mogill And I really credit those guys a lot with that they’ve put in Colby training, print training, and we’ve started using utilizing that and I what I did was go back and, and and test the best people I even want one person who’s not even with me anymore. I said, Would you mind taking this test? Because it would help me hire future people? And she’s like, no, Dave. Now the good news is I’ve been in business for over 30 years. Most of my people have been with me for 10, 20 years. So I have a great core people. But guys, we keep growing. And so I wasn’t always good at hiring people. And even worse at firing people. I would keep people way too long. Because I thought I could salvage a mic. It is my fault I can. And the great thing about the the group that I belong to with CrispX is that they bring in good speakers from the outside whether it’s a no ego aside, whether it’s You know, whatever it is, and it’s helped me focus on on the doing a better job of building business I graduate and undergraduate degree in business management and marketing. So I already had an interest I was always reading, but I never really applied it until I joined this group.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah. And we’ve had Mike on the show and I, I think what Michael and CrispX and what they’re doing is amazing. Many of our clients are in that program. And I only just like you, I only talk about the things that I think are great. And I think they do an excellent job there. Cy Wakeman. I’ve read her book and she’s gonna she’s gonna tell you straight what needs to happen and kind of cut through the BS speak. And yeah, there’s this a lot of and just surrounding yourself with with your peers is just an excellent way to to kind of grow.

David Craig  

I think that the key to success really, I mean, for us has been, you know, is that I don’t have I’m my attorneys, for example, being a trial lawyer takes a certain skill set and so that’s different than a business So but I’ve not been afraid to let my attorneys go out and be trained by linear go to linear school by b go to you know, all the top Trial Lawyers rally, I don’t care who it is we’ve sent my I send all my lawyers out. And I think some law firms that there’s the leader has a big ego and they want to be the they there it you know, what I’m not like that I’m my own travelers are getting recognized as top travelers in the country. They are winning jury trials, and I’m so proud of that I want them to be better than I ever hoped to be. And so in the business world is the same thing. You know, I had to start looking at and saying, you know what, I’m a small business I need to start trusting and learning and let other people do it that are more skilled at it than I am. And so I work with Harlan Schillinger marketing coach, I started I have an FBI or chief financial officer that, you know, keeps us all the financing stuff in relationships with banks, and I started delegating things to other people. We’ve grown a lot more than we ever would have, if we would have been limited by my knowledge and intellect and skill set.

Chris Dreyer  

Well, I think that’s an incredible piece of advice as well. I mean, you’re working with experts in their space, you’re, you’re allowing them to help contribute to your growth. And, you know, while we’re, while we’re focusing on the kind of the personal development type of thing, are there any business books or marketing books that come to mind that have really influenced you?

David Craig  

I mean, I read constantly, I actually get books delivered to me because one of the things was I was reading certain sets of books. And so Malcolm Gladwell, for example, he has a book club and so they pick books and they ship you two books every every month. And so I thought, you know, why not let somebody else pick some books because I’m, I’m keep picking the same type of stuff. But business books, I mean, if you go back all the way to Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, I mean, I can remember that in high school, you know, and so, but college Reading you know, I read Cy Wakeman’s book, Double Double. I mean, you know, I’m constantly reading whatever I get my hands on. If it’s a bad book I throw it out if it’s a good book I continue to read it but I would encourage people to read I always put it on my Instagram I always take a picture of whatever I’m reading and post it on my Instagram and so people in my office like Well, I don’t know how to do so you how you look. It’s not a secret just read the damn books I read.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah, I love those books. I think Double Double that Cameron Herold.

David Craig  

It is Cameron Harold. And then he’s also got one, your PR I think Free PR, which I’ve read. So you know, I do I try to keep up on all those those type of books.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah, that’s awesome. And we had we had Cameron on recently and, and I’ll have to check out Malcolm Gladwell Book Club. That’s probably what I’m going to do right after this, and probably go sign up myself. And then one thing I would tell you too, is there’s a Goodreads, there’s an app on your phone and you can see all your friends on Facebook, what they’re reading. I do that I really like that. So that’s me. Yeah.

David Craig  

Oh, I’ll look at that soon as I get out of here.

Chris Dreyer  

Yeah, so So David, one final question here. Is there anything that you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed?

David Craig  

No, just that, you know, I think that it’s important to empower clients all too often. And to often too long, it’s been like a lawyer. I mean, it’s kind of been the secret, you know, group, they have their own way of talking. They have their own knowledge. And they’re not, you know, always been great at sharing it. And so the reason I wrote the book was I want to empower these folks, so that they can read it and learn. We shouldn’t be scared to let people know, I encourage the people that have been in a truck wreck, to not only to read the book, but to get the knowledge and then interview lawyers. I mean, if you’re any type of big case, I don’t care what it is, whether it’s business law, whether it’s a personal injury within a wrongful death. People are so afraid to go talk to these people that these people should be grateful for you as a client, don’t be afraid to talk to them go out and sit down and interview two, three of them and then figure out which one was more compatible with them, who has the expertise, who has the knowledge, who has the resources, but more importantly, who is the person that I want to deal with for the next couple years?

Chris Dreyer  

Wow, that’s very powerful. I, I think that’s a great takeaway there. Guys, we’ve been talking to David Craig, Managing Partner at Craig, Kelley & Faultless. David, where can people learn more about you?

David Craig  

You can look at our website, which is CKFlaw.com. ckfLaw.com. Or you can call my law firm, which is 1-800-Ask-David, or you can look us up on Facebook or Instagram. We’re there as well.

Chris Dreyer  

Awesome. Thanks, David.

David Craig  

Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.

Conclusion

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